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California Welfare and Institutions Code § 4502: Rights of Persons of Developmental Disabilities

(a) Persons with developmental disabilities have the same legal rights and responsibilities guaranteed all other individuals by the United States Constitution and laws and the Constitution and laws of the State of California. An otherwise qualified person by reason of having a developmental disability shall not be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity that receives public funds.


(b) It is the intent of the Legislature that persons with developmental disabilities shall have rights including, but not limited to, the following:

  1. A right to treatment and habilitation services and supports in the least restrictive environment. Treatment and habilitation services and supports should foster the developmental potential of the person and be directed toward the achievement of the most independent, productive, and normal lives possible. Such services shall protect the personal liberty of the individual and shall be provided with the least restrictive conditions necessary to achieve the purposes of the treatment, services, or supports.

  2. A right to dignity, privacy, and humane care. To the maximum extent possible, treatment, services, and supports shall be provided in natural community settings.

  3.  A right to participate in an appropriate program of publicly supported education, regardless of degree of disability.

  4. A right to prompt medical care and treatment.

  5. A right to religious freedom and practice.

  6. A right to social interaction and participation in community activities.

  7. A right to physical exercise and recreational opportunities.

  8. A right to be free from harm, including unnecessary physical restraint, or isolation, excessive medication, abuse, or neglect.

  9. A right to be free from hazardous procedures.

  10. A right to make choices in their own lives, including, but not limited to, where and with whom they live, their relationships with people in their community, the way they spend their time, including education, employment, and leisure, the pursuit of their personal future, and program planning and implementation.

  11. A right to a prompt investigation of any alleged abuse against them.

Section 4502.1: Right to make choices

(a) The right of individuals with developmental disabilities to make choices in their own lives requires that all public or private agencies receiving state funds for the purpose of serving persons with developmental disabilities, including, but not limited to, regional centers, shall respect the choices made by a consumer or, if appropriate, the consumer's parents, legal guardian, conservator, or authorized representative. Those public or private agencies shall provide consumers with opportunities to exercise decision making skills in any aspect of day-to-day living and shall provide consumers with relevant information in an understandable form to aid the consumer in making his or her choice.


(b) A regional center shall provide information in a manner that is culturally and linguistically appropriate for the consumer, or, when appropriate, the consumer's parents, legal guardian, conservator, or authorized representative, including providing alternative communication services, as required by Article 9.5 (commencing with Section 11135) of Chapter 1 of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code and the regulations implementing that article.

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